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Factors motivating destination decisions of Chinese study abroad students

Zhiqi Wang (Bath Business School, Bath Spa University, Bath, UK)
Ian Crawford (School of Management, University of Bath, Bath, UK)

International Journal of Educational Management

ISSN: 0951-354X

Article publication date: 8 December 2020

Issue publication date: 15 March 2021




The paper examines the effects of individual differences on the key motivational factors affecting Chinese study abroad students.


The current study adopts a quantitative survey approach. Students are recruited through the largest online survey provider in China. Using 335 completed questionnaires and factor analysis, the key factors influencing Chinese students are identified. Subsequently, regressions are employed to analyse the impact of age, gender, socio-economic status, previous study or travel abroad experience, degree level and location on factor scores.


This research sheds new light on the decision-making process of Chinese study abroad students. It is found that Chinese students are influenced by three key factors, social, cultural and economic environment, non-personal and personal recommendations. The results reveal that male students from the lowest socio-economic group rely on non-personal information to decide destination where they can significantly upgrade their socio-economic status. Personal recommendations are used by young persons aged between 18 and 24 and those without previous overseas travel or study experience.


Although prior studies explore the motivations of Chinese study abroad students, very few focus on a large sample of students both in China and abroad and identify key factors using the statistical tool factor analysis. No research has been carried out to understand the impact of personal characteristics such as age, gender, prior study or travel abroad experience, degree level and location on significant factor scores. Such analysis is crucial for the financial stability of the international higher education market, particularly during the current COVID-19 crisis.



Wang, Z. and Crawford, I. (2021), "Factors motivating destination decisions of Chinese study abroad students", International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 35 No. 2, pp. 408-425.



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